#BlackLivesMatter in digital marketing – October 2020 update

Blog / by Karen Amundson

At Apiary, we want diversity and inclusion not to just be an extracurricular “priority,” but to be completely ingrained in our business, inherent in everything we do—from the people that make up the Apiary Collective, to the type of marketing and advertising we do for our clients—and in the way we run our business. 

Transparency is the best way we can think of to continue holding ourselves accountable to building a Collective that promotes equity in marketing and advertising. We have a long way to go, but have made some progress since our previous post. And, we’re planning to share an update on our journey at least twice per year. 

We hope that in doing so, we will inspire and model a path forward for others in the advertising industry. Apiary may be small by comparison to the large agency players, but we’re going to keep punching through systematic oppression to create ripples of action and change. We want the big fish in the pond to think: “If these little fish can do it, what’s our excuse?”

CONNECTING: Our path toward diversity and inclusion in digital marketing

We say diversity and inclusion is a priority. But, we also recognize that when given the choice, we (and other organizations) tend to hire people we know, and people referred by trusted contacts. This means we tend to hire people like the folks we already know. 

To create an environment in which diversity and inclusion are inevitable and irrevocable tenants to our business, we need to know and trust a more diverse set of people. 

We have found several paths to start connecting with and building trust with a more diverse set of people.

DONATING & VOLUNTEERING. Contributing to the talent pipeline

The more diverse the pool of digital marketers entering the workforce, the easier it is to build a more diverse, inclusive team. To this end, we have been fortunate to foster a partnership with COOP Careers. COOP builds upward mobility for Black, Latinx, and first-generation college graduates through helping people launch careers in digital marketing. 

Donations. We held a summer donation drive, raising $7,895 from 27 individual donors, including a $5K donation match from Apiary Digital®. A huge THANK YOU to clients, consultants, alums, and supporters of the Apiary Collective who made this possible. Together, our donations are expected to bring two additional participants into the COOP program! 

Volunteering. We had the privilege of participating in COOP Connect week, which brings together employers and COOP alums. We’re looking forward to future volunteer opportunities by helping COOPers with interview skills. At Apiary, part of our value proposition is that everyone in the Collective is an experienced professional. Because of this, we’re not able to hire directly out of the COOP program (we require at least 5 years of experience to get an interview at Apiary). But, we’re playing the long-game. Five years from now, this will still be a priority at Apiary, and by then, we’ll have fostered relationships and connections so that we can hire from the COOP alumni network!

Social capital. One thing we’re fortunate to have at Apiary are a lot of industry connections and resources. We frequently have clients asking for referrals for their job openings, and have been able to share these opportunities with COOPers, leading to at least two interviews so far. We have been so impressed with the caliber of all of the candidates coming out of the COOP program!

ULFC donation. We made a one-time $500 donation to the Urban Leadership Foundation of Colorado to support two projects they’re undertaking: Improvements to mental health services and promoting voting in Colorado. ULFC is dedicated to helping mid-career Black and minority professionals advance through leadership training. We learned about this program through an Apiary alumna.

Connecting with people directly: Mix/ed Spaces 
Over the past few months, Apiary Founder & CEO Karen Amundson has had the privilege of connecting with a small group of amazing, powerful founders and executives in the marketing and advertising industry. We all come from different racial and ethnic backgrounds and live in different parts of the country, spanning urban, suburban, and rural areas. We’ve been doing something Americans seldom have an opportunity to do: Talk about race in a mixed space. We’ve opened up this conversation to a larger group, creating a forum and space for conversation in a mixed space, dubbed “Mix/ed Space: Drink o’clock Chats About Race in America.” The first event was attended by about 20 participants from diverse backgrounds and was a real hit, so we’ve decided to do it at the beginning of each month! If you’re interested in participating, please request more information for this invite-only conversation: [email protected].

RECRUITING. Seek out diverse online communities

In addition to the diversity-centric recruiting platforms we shared in our first #BlackLivesMatter in Digital Marketing post, we’ve learned about a few more: 

  • Incluzion. “Incluzion is a community of Black & Latinx professionals working remotely & flexibly. We’re also a startup that connects companies with diverse talent.” Not only do they offer a job board focused on bringing more diverse candidates opportunities for flexible, remote work, they also offer: Training; an active Slack group of which Apiary is a participant; and many other resources. Follow their core team on Twitter @datdudejibril, @ShayWaajid, @purposedpartner
  • Hue. We’re learning about Hue’s job board and community—“a platform built to advocate change, by amplifying voices of color working in marketing” which looks promising, but we’re withholding an outright recommendation of this organization until we can verify the diversity of their own team and ownership. 

Events & organizations. We’ve been seeking out other organizations supporting the future of diversity and inclusion within digital marketing and are excited to share our research! 

LEARNING. Always learning; putting ourselves “out there”

Whoever you are, you don’t truly know what it’s like to walk in someone else’s shoes. The practice of learning never ends! Here are some resources we’ve found helpful:

  • Diversity and inclusion consultants. If you’re looking to hire a professional, you might find this helpful: A free database of D&I Black consultants and Black-owned companies available for hire.
  • Recommended reading, listening, and voices of brilliance to follow on social media: 
    • Algorithms of Oppression by @safiyanoble talks about racial bias in search engines, which can be applied broadly 
    • For broader tech news and perspective, subscribe to a free (or better yet, paid) subscription to The Plug and follow founder @Sherrell_Dorsey
    • Eloquent Rage by @ProfessorCrunk …not specifically tied to digital marketing, but a great read to learn about Black feminism
    • Also not specifically about digital marketing, but this episode of Brene Brown’s podcast with Ibram X Kendi, @DrIbram author of “How to be an antiracist” (or better yet, read the book!) This episode is a great entry point for those getting stuck in white shame, needing an entry point to get unstuck and started somewhere 
    • Speaking of podcasts, if listening is more your jam than books, check out Living Corporate, “a digital media network that amplifies the voices of Black and brown folks at work.

At Apiary, we are actively seeking a partner and resources to help us transform our marketing strategies and agency best practices to embed equity and inclusiveness into the advertising recommendations we make for our clients.

We are sharing our voice and getting involved in the hopes of being found by other organizations, businesses, brands, and individuals committed to building a digital marketing and advertising future of diversity, inclusion, and equity: 

Demanding change from platforms like Facebook. Apiary participated in the Color of Change July Facebook Ads boycott by offering up thought leadership on Search Engine Land for alternative methods of driving customer acquisition without Facebook Ads, and giving our clients options. Two Apiary clients participated in the boycott and for both of them, we provided strategies on how to diversify their investments beyond Facebook Ads.

Getting certified. Related to our goal of building a more diverse network, and being more visible to others committed to the cause, we’re working to become a Certified Woman-Owned business!

  • WBENC. We are applying for the official women-owned business certification. This organization “is the largest certifier of women-owned businesses in the U.S. and a leading advocate for women business owners and entrepreneurs.” We hope that by participating in certifications like these, we’ll be more findable by clients and other organizations committed to building diversity and inclusion into their own business DNA. 
  • SHEowns. We’re excited to be an early beta tester of the application process for SHEowns—a brand new startup offering certifications for businesses that are “entirely, majority, or equally-owned by women and/or gender diverse people.” Many thanks to the SHEowns team!

The more work at finding our way to diversity and inclusion as a company, the more we realize how much work we have to do. We’re continually learning the importance of doing the work, and we invite you to join us on this incredibly important journey.